Integrating Scientific Practice Into Online Environments

Janelle Page, Cameron Earl

Abstract


This paper focuses on an innovation converting laboratory based food microbiological activities into a flexible online format for a subject offered at the La Trobe Rural Health School (Bendigo). Until 2012, this subject contained face-to-face laboratory sessions to demonstrate the applications of a number of microbiological techniques. Offering this subject in a face-to-face format alone has become impractical with more students choosing to learn off campus. It is important to note that the outcomes of the laboratory sessions were not for the students to gain a level of competency but a clear understanding of the microbiological techniques and processes.

The laboratory sessions were replaced with a series of short purpose made videos demonstrating techniques such as sampling and culturing; the findings were presented in PowerPoint presentations supported with verbal commentary; and the learning outcomes were assessed using an online quiz. Additionally, online activities included a project activity booklet that incorporated general questions for the students to undertake prior to attempting that quiz. The students demonstrated good understanding of the key aspects of food microbiology, sampling techniques, and food safety management approaches through the quiz results. Additionally, the students were supportive of the online format, as reported in the survey data, as it provided a flexible study-option and higher level of accuracy within the demonstrations.

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